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Worlds largest economies have enormous renewable energy potentials
The report "Renewable Energy Potentials - Opportunities for the Rapid Development of Renewable Energy in Large Economies" was prepared by REN21 as an input to the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change. Various experts from renowned research groups contributed to the assessment.
The debate on climate change has clearly shifted and the focus now is on mitigation and adaptation. To cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least half by 2050 and to achieve a peak and decline of emissions by 2020, reduction measures must be implemented immediately and sweeping actions prepared that will profoundly transform the world’s production and consumption systems and patterns.
A major share of the potential for climate change mitigation lies in the energy sector. In the short term, energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) are the major low-carbon options that are ready, viable, and available today.
A number of countries have introduced RE deployment policies in at least one of the three major markets: electricity, transportation, heating/cooling. Several of these countries can already demonstrate significant successes. Current annual global investment in RE power production assets surpasses investment in nuclear and most fossil fuel power, even when large hydropower – an already established RE technology – is not taken into account. Investment in biofuel assets is growing sharply and end-user investment in RE heat and cooling is accompanying the upward trend in energy efficiency. It is being increasingly acknowledged that RE technologies have moved from the fringes to the mainstream of energy supply. However, there is a widespread preconception that RE technologies will not be able to reach a significant share of energy supply, even in the long run, because there would not be sufficient RE resources to produce the required power, heat, and fuels at an acceptable price.
The present report focuses on the world’s large economies, which consume 80 percent of global primary energy and produce a similar share of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these economies are represented in the Gleneagles Dialogue. A significant increase in the use of RE and EE technologies in these countries will pave the path to a low-carbon future.
The report focuses on energy production potentials from renewable energy sources, their cost and regional distribution, as well as the extent to which RE technologies are able to provide sufficient and cost-efficient supply over the next 40 years. It identifies the long-term supply opportunities renewable energy technologies offer in the energy markets in the Gleneagles Dialogue countries (i.e. how much is realistically possible) based on the technical potentials, but taking into account the constraints that may hinder the realisation of the potentials (e.g. competition for land-use, technology cost, stock turnover, and others).
Addressing the sustainable development issues discussed in the Gleneagles Dialogue, the report also highlights the opportunities renewable energies present, not only for climate change mitigation and other environmental objectives, but also for economic development and employment, as well as for energy security. It makes the case for the fast and large-scale deployment of renewable energy.
The report also offers suggestions for achieving deployment potentials. The main elements and principles of national RE promotion policies are presented based on experiences to date in a number of countries. Finally, possibilities for removing barriers and promoting RE technologies in international policies and regimes are outlined and design elements suggested.
An international platform for government, private sector, and non-governmental leaders to jointly address the goal of advancing renewable energy, WIREC 2008 was the third global ministerial-level conference on renewable energy, following events in Beijing in 2005 and Bonn in 2004. India has offered and been selected by the WIREC 2008 participants to host the next International Renewable Energy Conference in 2010.
REN 21 network